Learning Cornish (Kernewek)

May 24, 2021 by Leave your thoughts

I started learning Cornish in autumn 2020 during lockdown. It’s been a great language learning journey. Since starting my studies of Cornish I have been asked how to get into the language. This blog post includes the things I found really boosted my experience learning Cornish.

Photo of Cornish coast with St. Piran’s flag (The Cornish flag)

Why Cornish?

During lockdown I decided to take on every learning opportunity for languages I would not usually get to study. I was lucky enough to join classes for North Sámi, Scots, Scottish Gaelic, Kristang and Cornish.

What about other languages?

I have been studying Korean this year as my main language focus. You can also follow my learning journey with Korean here. I talk about Korean content too. Learning Cornish has not had a huge impact on that project. My goals and starting points are different.

What do you get out of learning Cornish?

There is something quite special about learning indigenous, endangered and vulnerable languages. It’s quite special to connect to the language community and Cornish has been no exception. In fact the people I have met are now a big motivation for me to continue learning Cornish.

Learning Cornish – Course

There are courses available in Cornwall for learning the language. There are also summer courses there too. In 2020 more of these learning centres started offering online options. This Zoom boom has brought in more people learning Cornish. You can take advantage of this too!

In London (and possibly continuing online) there are courses in a number of languages through City Lit. These courses will be updated mostly likely during or after the summer holidays in the UK.

Dipping into Cornish

You can start the Cornish learning process now. Kesva has freely available materials (with audio) as well as details about the language exams. SWF is the Standard Written Form. This is the version I have been learning. It is the form of Cornish that would be used in schools as the standard form.

What is the Kemmyn form on the Kesva site?

Kemmyn is not hugely dissimilar to SWF. The main differences I have noticed are spelling changes from “oe” is Kemmyn to “oo” in SWF. There are also some more double consonants in Kemmyn. This is a very basic breakdown of differences though. But you can learn either and read the other without any real problem.

Many of the people I have come across have used Say Something in Cornish to start learning the language. The GoCornish site also offers you some links and materials for learning the language.

Books for learning Cornish

For my Cornish course we used the book Bora Brav. It’s an engaging book with practical language and sensible vocabulary choices. It also explains the grammar well and eases you into Cornish nicely.

You can also find a number of other titles in Cornish on The Cornish Store website.

The materials on the Kesva site give you a good grounding in pronunciation. Cornish pronunciation is generally quite straight forward and predictable.

Using Cornish

It’s a good idea to use Cornish as much as you can. There are groups that meet online to use the language. There are also plenty of places to listen to and read Cornish too. I have put together a starter pack resource list for you here. These are the things I found really got me into this warm, welcoming and friendly community. I would love to see you at one of the Cornish chats or events in the future!

Meur ras!

Learning Cornish Online

There are lots of groups for you to learn Cornish. You can plug into the following:

Facebook Groups:

Cornish Television and Radio

Institute of Cornish Studies

Conversation groups online (beginners, intermediate and advanced groups available)


Video Course for learning Cornish:

Cornish in The House


Some channels to follow on Twitter for Cornish language content:

@kernewegva (Cornish Radio)

@GoLearnCornish (Phrases and Resources)

@SpeakCornish1 (Home of Speak Cornish week – next one 19-27 June 2021)

@kernowlingo (Tweeting about all things related to the language)

@SAYKernewek (Cornish Language Office)

@GoCornish (Resources for learning)




Kernewek Server


Clozemaster Cornish

Memrise Cornish

Quizlet Cornish

uTalk Cornish

Other websites:

Kowethas an Yeth Kernewek – language resources and bookshop

Penseythen Gernewek (Cornish Weekend)

Discussions of Gendered Language in Cornish

Learn Cornish Language (Resouces and links to class/tutor options)

Cornish Online Dictionary

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This post was written by Richard

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